28 August 2010

I think fall is coming already!

I know it has been a while since I updated you on my life as a winemaker and I have no excuse but I hope you will forgive me.  I thought I would get to tell you that I went into the vineyard after returning from Ohio to find green grapes turning red before my very eyes but there was nary a one.  Well that's not quite true I found three on a shoot that had gotten partially broken in the wind.  When a shoot get damaged the vine does everything it can to get the fruit ripe before the shoot dies.  It is very interesting to see, I'm sorry I didn't have my camera with me to show you.  I also spent some time last week hauling out the DE filter, remember from the spring, to clean and setup for filtering the foch and the chardonnay.  I built a new handle for stirring the DE in the mixing tank and it worked very well so I am feeling good about that.  It needs some modification and some dressing up but all in all I consider it a success.  Sorry you can't see that either, I just didn't have my camera anywhere useful!

As for the week that just passed it was a little more progressive.  On Tuesday we tasted the pinot blends for the last time and agreed that we had made a good choice so I will start pulling the pinot out of barrel next week at which point there will be no going back.  We are going to hold over the reserve wines, Vintner's Blend and Dunn Forest single vineyard, another year in barrel so I'll rack them to neutral barrels on racks and they will get moved to another room so that when I heat the barrel room in the winter they will remain cool.  I filtered the Foch on Wednesday and the Chardonnay on Thursday.  Both went very well, I think the long settling time while I was gone is making filtering easier, similar to when I left in the spring.  I'll have to keep this in mind for next year.  I was a little worried about the Chardonnay because it failed the protein/heat stability test so I had to add a little Bentonite to the wine after I returned from Ohio and that usually plugs up the filter in a heart beat but this time I skated through with minimal problems.   

I did get out in the vineyard on Thursday and we are starting to see some color change, hopefully we will get some more heat but I must admit that it is feeling rather fall like this morning.  We are full two weeks behind last year and last year our Riesling never got ripe and we left it to rot on the vine so you can see why I might be starting to get nervous.  Having a cool site can definitely be a disadvantage sometimes.  So keep your fingers crossed for some warm weather for us.  Last night I was talking to another winemaker who is nervous because he has younger vines and some of them are starting to shut down which may mean that nothing will get ripe.  According to some research that just came out from Dr. Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University across all the growing regions heat accumulation is 20-30% down from the average which is comparable to the 2007 vintage.  I liked a lot of the wines from the 2007 vintage, so if we get another one like that without too much rain at the end I'll be happy.  The joys of farming.

Last night was the Celebration Oregon at the State Fair in Salem.  It was fun to see friends, taste a few wines and pour our own.  We were awarded 4 bronze medals for the 2007 Marechal Foch, 2009 Riesling, 2008 Seven and 2007 Gewurztraminer.  If you missed the event but would like to try some of the award winners stop by the Hart of the Garden building while the State Fair is going on, they have a tasting room set up where you can see the winners as well as taste some great Oregon wines.

16 August 2010

Ohio in August

Well, Ohio in August was about what I was expecting.  Hot, 90+F, humid, 90%, and one thunderstorm, one of the few weather trends I miss out here in Oregon.  Of course we were on the interstate when it let loose, 12 feet of visibility and 4 inches of standing water in about 5 minutes.  I wasn't driving so I just got to enjoy the storm.

Otherwise the trip went well.  I don't have any pictures because I didn't take my camera but I do have a partial list of some of the places around Cincinnati and Louisville who took my wine.  Our distributor is Tramonte & Sons so if your store doesn't carry it you can ask your wine shop to order it from them.

As for what I did, Monday was a trade show at Tramonte's new warehouse and there were a lot of us pouring our wines so that customers, i.e. wine shop owners, restaurateurs, could come in and try the wines as well as admire the new facility, which is lovely.  Humidity and temperature controlled so it was almost like Oregon in the spring except I was inside the whole time.  I was also next to a gelato table, lovely!  Especially as a palate cleanser.  Nick, the gelato owner, has a shop in Dayton, Dolce Vita, just across the river from Cincinnati, I highly recommend trying it out.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I spent being driven around and talking about my wines.  I was pouring the Muller, Seven, Riesling and Willamette Valley Pinot.  Except for the pinot they were perfect wines to be pouring in that kind of heat and were well received because of it I think.  People liked the pinot but said it wouldn't sell until the fall.  I can certainly respect that, I'm not drinking much red myself right now.  There was a nice tasting at 4 Flights in Prospect, KY, just outside of Louisville except that was just after the storm hit so fewer tasters than normal but a good turnout nonetheless.  I got home very late on Thursday and spent Friday helping Mary set up for Starry, Starry nights, our annual campover.  Check out our website www.airliewinery.com for more information if you would like to come next year. 

And here is the promised list . . .

Piazza Discepoli, Glendale
Brown Dog Cafe, Blue Ash
Hyde Park Gourmet Food & Wine, Hyde Park
Tellers, Hyde Park
City Beverage (Drive Thru), Hyde Park
20 Brix Restaurant, Milford
Wyoming Wines, Cincinnati
Little Sonoma, West Chester

Kroger, Prospect (after approval by Kroger)
Prospect Party Center, Prospect
4 Flights, Prospect
Westport Whiskey & Wine, Louisville
Corbett's, Louisville

06 August 2010

Chardonnay and Foch are in Tank!

Another week gone and in a flash it seems.  I spent the week moving the Chardonnay and Marechal Foch from barrel to tank as well as all the work that goes along with moving wine.  Mostly I spend Tuesday and Wednesday watching wine move through a sight glass, trying to do other jobs in the 9 minute window afforded me and cleaning up after myself.  Barry, our marketing and sales person, bailed me out by draining the rest of the lees and washing the barrels after I emptied them.  The lees are collected in a small tank and allowed to settle for a week or two so that I can recover a little more wine.
Thursday I spent resetting the barrels and burning sulfur wicks inside them to protect the empty barrels until they are cleaned and refilled in October.  I couldn't take a picture of the wick on fire as holding the wick, the match and the camera all at the same time seemed dangerous and possibly a fire hazard.  Though in the interest of sharing the thought crossed my mind including using the camera's timer feature but in the end I decided to keep moving ahead.  Therefore you only get to see the wick before and after.  After burning the wick I put a small dixie cup in the bung hole instead of a bung because I find the sulfur gas tends to degrade the silicon of the bungs and shorten their life span.  Dixie cups are cheaper and work great for this job.
Otherwise I spend the rest of my time getting ready for my trip east next week.  Kentucky and Ohio in the August, just imagine the humidity!  It will be a good refresher for my system. Monday I am at an event put on by our new distributor, Tramonte and Sons, and then three days of ride alongs with reps in Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington.  Leave me a comment if you have a favorite wine shop you want me to visit.  I must admit that selling wine is not my favorite aspect of being a winemaker, but a necessary one if I want the pleasure of continuing to be able to make more.  Fortunately Mary and Barry save me from having to do this sort of thing very often.  Personally, I think they are better at selling wine than I am anyway. ;-)